Rusty was first diagnosed with heart murmur grade 3/6 in August of 2016 while traveling and seeing a vet for an unrelated health issue. We were told at the time that heart murmurs are common and that it was unlikely it would progress to anything more serious. In January 2018, Rusty suddenly and with no warning whatsoever started coughing repeatedly. After a quick visit to the ER, he was misdiagnosed with kennel cough and given antibiotics. Two days later with his cough getting much worse, he finally got imaged and was diagnosed with MVD Stage B2 and CHF. We were (once again) traveling at the time and were advised that he may not even survive the flight back home. He was immediately put on pimobendan and Lasix which made the cough go away. Once we did get back home, we were seen by a cardiologist who performed an echocardiogram and confirmed the heart murmur was a grade of 5/6 and he had severe regurgitation. Rusty was given only 9 to 12 months to live.

Initially, we were devastated by the news but then quickly learned about the mitral valve repair surgical options, first in Japan and then at the RVC as well. Upon contacting both locations, we were given a surgery date for late March at the RVC and we then spent the next 2 months preparing for the trip and desperately trying to manage Rusty's disease. Rusty quickly spiraled downhill; he lost his appetite and would repeatedly refuse to take his medications. Within 6 weeks he went from 30 lbs. to 26 lbs. was very lethargic and went into severe CHF twice, the second time ending up hospitalized in an oxygen chamber. He was eventually diagnosed with Stage D heart failure and was upgraded from Lasix to Torsemide. In late March 2018, Dr. Dan Brockman and Dr. Poppy Bristow performed the mitral valve repair surgery successfully which dramatically lowered the level of regurgitation. Rusty also had no audible murmur anymore after surgery. His recovery was quite dramatic; his appetite was suddenly ravenous and he regained the lost weight within a week. His first checkup with his cardiologist showed dramatic decrease in heart size and all chambers were at pre-disease state. His activity level has increased beyond even the level prior to his CHF episode. These days Rusty is incredibly energetic, playful and full of life and free of any heart medications.

Mitral Valve Disease in Dogs | Mighty Hearts Project